This is the conclusion I have drawn as well, given Michael Ignatieff’s willingness to let Harper lie to all Canadians about tax leakage with impunity. What’s with that? I wouldn’t want to accuse Ignatieff of “just visiting”, but Ignatieff’s total silence on Harper’s $35 billion income trust fraud is deserving of the charge of “just facilitating’? Tell me I am wrong. Better yet, prove it:
Michael Ignatieff same as Stephen Harper on key issues
By Haroon Siddiqui
Sun Feb 28 2010
Who would have guessed that there would be such fury across the land over the proroguing of Parliament? Shutting down the House and the Senate proved the proverbial last straw – one arrogant act too many by a Prime Minister who had long been getting away with doing the opposite of what he had promised Canadians.
We're all now familiar with Stephen Harper's sins: ignoring the law on a fixed election date; making 33 appointments to the Senate that he wanted to reform; crushing independent oversight institutions and individuals; imposing unprecedented secrecy; running government by executive diktat; implementing ideological funding cuts, and so on.
His other sins are not all that well known, yet – opting into the gold-plated pensions he and his Reformers used to scoff at; failing to set up a promised independent appointments commission; and making judicial appointments without much public scrutiny, by naming or elevating 311 judges, a third of the nation's federal judiciary, while rendering more than half the country's 17 judicial vetting committees defunct, according Lawyers Weekly.
While most prime ministers centralized power in their office, none did as much as he. His predecessors also prorogued Parliament to suit their partisan purposes but none in as egregious circumstances as he – when faced with a certain defeat in the Commons and when badly cornered by the opposition on the conduct of a war in the middle of that war. Yet he was allowed to get away, scandalously in the first instance, by a Governor General not sure of herself.
On just about every one of the issues listed above, a majority of Canadians have been disapproving of Harper, according to polls. Yet on the one poll that counts – party preference – his Conservatives have not lost much ground. There was some slippage over the proroguing issue but not enough to make a big difference.
That's a killer verdict on Michael Ignatieff.
Explanations/excuses have been proffered – his lack of political antennae due to his long absence from Canada, and his political inexperience, exacerbated, first, by his sudden ascension to the Liberal throne, through backroom machinations against Stéphane Dion and, second, by an amateurish staff (one of whom, Rocco Rossi, having abandoned that ship, now wants to be our mayor).
But Ignatieff's problem is more fundamental.
While many Canadians do not like what Harper stands for, what does Ignatieff stand for? Little or nothing.
Operating on the dictum that the only thing he has to do is to wait for the government to defeat itself is to risk waiting forever. He has yet to articulate a plan for the economy and Canada's place in the world.
But even that does not fully explain his failure.
He may be too compromised by his own record on too many issues of deep concern to Canadians to be an alternative to Harper.
Take the turmoil surrounding the Harperites' ambush of Rights and Democracy.
Its new directors did not like the agency's funding of groups that probed the Israeli record on human rights during the war on Gaza. But Ignatieff is hardly in a position to, say, call for the resignation of the chair, Aurel Braun. It was Braun who escorted Ignatieff on April 13, 2008, to the Holy Blossom Temple, where the Liberal leader had gone to apologize for saying that Israel may have committed a "war crime" in bombing the village of Qana during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
Take bigger issues, such as Afghanistan.
Ignatieff was gung-ho about the military mission from Day One, seeing it as part of American Empire Lite. How can he offer an effective critique of the current contradictory American policy of a military surge while at the same time promising to militarily abandon Afghanistan? He may love that policy but it's not any different than Harper's and contradicts majority Canadian sentiment.
Take the Afghan detainee issue. That's about torture, and Canadian complicity in it. Ignatieff, having been for "coercive interrogation," is in no position to offer a moral critique.
Omar Khadr is about torture and about Guantanamo Bay.
Maher Arar was about torture.
The cases of three other Arab Canadians, whose detentions in Syria and Egypt are back in the headlines with the release of parts of the report by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci, are about torture.
And we have not even mentioned Iraq.
With the return of Parliament Wednesday, Ignatieff needs to find ways to differentiate himself from Harper on those and similar issues of human rights and the rule of law that go to the core of the collective Canadian conscience.
Haroon Siddiqui writes Thursday and Sunday. email@example.com
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Posted by Fillibluster at 3:24 PM